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Choice Devours Itself: So much for making your wishes known

Regular readers will recall that I have identified a phenomenon that I call "choice devouring itself." This occurs when the left first promotes some choice as necessary in the name of individual freedom. Then, later on, this so-called "choice" is forced upon some of its alleged beneficiaries, and the left either does not care or denies the occurrence. In the area of abortion, choice devours itself when women (who were supposed to benefit from the wonderful opportunity to murder their children) are forced or highly pressured into abortion, and there is no outcry among "pro-choicers." Choice devours itself in the area of sex when slaves, victims of sex trafficking, are not rescued--treated as presumptively "choosing" their enslavement--and offered "help" only in the form of STD prevention tips. Choice devours itself when Planned Parenthood connives at statutory rape (or more-than-statutory rape). And in the area of death, choice devours itself when innocent people are killed who never even asked to die. Because the "choice" of death (when you are old or have a poor "quality of life") is just so wonderful, you see, that if you didn't make that choice...well...you should have. So let us help you.

The latest case of this kind comes from the State of Wisconsin, where murder was narrowly averted.

The County of Outagamie, Wisconsin, has agreed to voluntarily dismiss a guardianship proceeding involving 76-year-old Janice Geiger. This agreement represents a major victory for Janice, who, under the oversight of a court-appointed guardian, has suffered months of insufficient nutrition, neglect and inadequate care.
In 2013, Janice named her daughter as her agent under a durable power of attorney for healthcare. She clearly expressed her desires concerning care, and as understood by all members of the family, these desires included provision of medical care and nutrition. Last fall, Janice was hospitalized, and thereafter, was discharged to the Bridges of Appleton Nursing Home. At this point, she received most of her nutrition via her PEG tube.

Unfortunately, nursing home personnel soon began pressuring the family to remove the feeding tube, even though Janice was fully conscious and continued to enjoy many activities, including visiting with her family, playing cards, singing old songs, and spending time in prayer. When the family refused to agree to pulling out the tube, the nursing home called in county adult protective services, which petitioned the Outagamie Circuit Court to appoint a corporate guardian, Cathy’s Angels, as Janice’s temporary guardian. Family members were excluded from input in decisions, and even began to be excluded from visiting Janice. When they visited, they often found Janice stuporous or barely conscious from the overuse of morphine. (emphasis added)

When cases arise in the news in which family members disagree or there is a court case about someone's receiving tube feeding, we are often told, "Make your wishes clear. Put things in writing." Well, Janice did that. Her family members were all agreed about her wishes, and she had clearly appointed a person with Power of Attorney for healthcare. Nonetheless, the nursing home wrested healthcare decision-making from her family on the grounds that the family would not agree to having her feeding stopped. This, despite the fact that Janice was conscious!

But it gets even worse:

A hearing to determine whether the guardianship should become permanent, which would allow the guardian to order the removal of the feeding tube, was set for March 3, just days away. After receiving Cyndi Geiger’s call, Life Legal arranged for the family to be represented by local attorney Jonathan Barstow, an expert in elder law.

The hearing was rescheduled for April 7 to allow for a jury trial, but after Mr. Barstow reviewed Janice’s medical records, he realized that she might not live that long. Mr. Barstow learned that six days after the temporary guardianship was established, Janice’s food intake had been cut in half, to about fifty percent of her daily caloric needs according to the nursing home’s own dietician. On February 20, 2015, Janice’s nutrition had been cut drastically again. Her caloric intake went from the initial 1584 calories per day to 792 per day, then to 288 calories per day. She was being starved.

The nursing home was deliberately, systematically starving Janice to death. And the Wisconsin county bureaucracy with the Orwellian name of "adult protection services" lent itself to this program of murder. This would be evil enough in itself, no matter what she had previously said, but the dark irony is that it was also against her own wishes, previously expressed. This was murder by starvation for its own sake, as if it were a good in itself.

Mr. Barstow put aside everything to work on bringing pressure to bear on the “corporate guardian” and the taxpayer-funded county attorney representing her. His strategy worked. Within days of being shown the motions Mr. Barstow was prepared to file, the corporate guardian and her attorney agreed to relinquish guardianship and transfer responsibility for Janice’s care to one of her daughters. She is now receiving appropriate levels of nutrition and hydration, and her family is working to move her to a new nursing home that will respect her and her family’s wishes.

I wish all the best of luck to the family in getting Janice moved to a nursing home that doesn't want to kill her.

The worship of Death takes on a life of its own. When choice serves the purposes of Death, Death is happy to use choice. When choice no longer serves that purpose, because the individual refuses to choose Death, then Death abandons the pretense of honoring choice.

Let us pray for all the Janice Geigers in this world.

Comments (24)

At one point does it become ok for the family to in a sense, stage a jail break, and take their elderly parent from the nursing home even if the state has taken over that parent's care? Possibly not merely ok, but even the morally right thing to do. I understand that such a thing is complicated and could fail, but it seems to me that doing the right thing sometimes is risky and sometimes even illegal.

I find it interesting that "tough on crime" types never care about cases like this, even when they happen in deep red states like Texas. I guess it's because it doesn't have a black or hispanic thug committing a violent crime; it's antiseptic by comparison. It almost has the feel of white collar crime even though it is more depraved than most "violent murders" that happen each year.

The left has had a cult of death for as long as it has been in existence. 'Choice', a shorthand for Autonomy is a smokescreen used to mask the elite's true wishes. They will only allow some given choice to take place if they are sure a majority or necessary plurality will choose in the interests of the elite. Euthanasia and abortion are part of the cult of death and must be promoted by the elite. If somebody opts for the wrong choice, often the elite will use force to get what they want, even if it means executing someone.

The only mercy that can be given to these murderous, godless parasites is the mercy of the Lord. I have none for them.

Added to my blogroll

DR84, I would tend to connect the morality there entirely to the pragmatic likelihood of success. Which unfortunately is pretty much nil nowadays. Wherever you go with Grandma, they will find you. And then you will be branded a kidnapper for having "kidnapped" your own mother/grandmother to save her life. And then you'll never get the custody back and be able to save her. So they did the right thing here, and thank God (and the pro-life, pro bono legal firm), it worked.

Quite some years ago there was a case in which a man was able to save his father, at least temporarily, from being killed by "kidnapping" him from the wife. But it was quite a different case. The father was mobile, and the man was lucky enough to get a sympathetic judge in the state to which they fled. However, in the end he was forced to send his father back to live with his mother. I forget what the final outcome was, but I know she didn't get to take the father to a meeting with Jack Kevorkian, which (literally) was her original plan. The grown son was unable to visit California for the indefinite future, because there was a warrant out for his arrest in California for "kidnapping" his father. Fortunately, Michigan did not extradite him.

I believe in the end, though the would-be victim was sent back to his wife, there was somewhat more surveillance of her, and hopefully she didn't actually succeed in murdering him. So the "kidnapping" was a partial success, but only partial.

In a case like the one in this post, where the elderly person is less mobile and is actually in the custody of a nursing home, I don't think you'd get a mile.

I don't understand why the parties responsible are not subject to some kind of penalty. Either the nursing home overstepped their authority and proper role, or the county adult services did, or the judge of the circuit court who approved the guardianship did, or the Guardian Angels corporate guardian did - probably ALL FOUR. I understand that maybe SOME of these operators are free from being sued under legal immunity principles, but I doubt that the nursing home is. And I doubt the corporate guardian is immune from charges that they violated norms about family rights. Surely starving a person to death when it is against their express wishes AND is not ordered by a judge violates norms? Why would judges want nursing homes to take power out of their hands?

And even if county adult services and the judge are technically immune (as in immune from civil law suits) that doesn't mean that they can't be (a) censured by their superiors / higher authorities, and (b) kicked out of their positions by those superiors if it was egregious. (The judge may have to be impeached...so what are we waiting for, get him impeached already!)

Tony,

I don't understand why the parties responsible are not subject to some kind of penalty.

How often do you see police getting prosecuted for brazen criminal violations of state law? One of the recurring themes on sites that track that stuff like filmingcops.com and cop block is precisely that prosecutors tend to ignore malfeasance by the government's agents. Stuff that would get you easily a decade in prison can be shrugged off in the most tortured twists of logic if the perpetrator is a government employee.

Lydia,

DR84, I would tend to connect the morality there entirely to the pragmatic likelihood of success. Which unfortunately is pretty much nil nowadays.

I wouldn't say nil. I would say low. If you were willing to literally fight law enforcement to protect your relative, it could easily go down very, very badly for the authorities. Just look at the Bundy Ranch stand off. That was over a sketchy property rights issue. Were it over them trying to murder Bundy's father, I think the response would have been even bigger.

And Ruby Ridge was over an arrest warrant for an entrapment case involving selling a shotgun. Nonetheless, when it was over, his wife, son, and friend were dead, he was in prison, and his little children were effectively orphaned, regardless of where public sympathies lay. Mutatis mutandis for all the dead people at Waco.

Purely pragmatically, the goal is not to die sympathetically. I know Bundy is getting away with it thus far, but I think the authorities would be even more ruthless about "rescuing" an old lady and getting her back to the "safety" of the nursing home from her "abusive" (cough cough) relatives.

All of that is true and the goal is indeed not to die sympathetically. I think this country is rapidly headed toward a point in which it's only a matter of time before the authorities push too far on the wrong person, lose badly and ignite a firestorm. Given how badly many police forces treat veterans today, and how many veterans there are under 50, my guess is that they'll push the wrong veteran too far one day and they'll have a situation they absolutely cannot handle.

How often do you see police getting prosecuted for brazen criminal violations of state law? One of the recurring themes on sites that track that stuff like filmingcops.com and cop block is precisely that prosecutors tend to ignore malfeasance by the government's agents. Stuff that would get you easily a decade in prison can be shrugged off in the most tortured twists of logic if the perpetrator is a government employee.

Mike, I see that. Prosecutors covering for cops, who are (after all) "one of us". But that's not so true of, say, judges covering for a nursing home, who is not part of government and isn't "one of us" in any special way. Certainly state legislators don't have any need to cover for bad judges.

In any case, my basic issue wasn't whether anyone would likely carry out the penalties that could be applied, first off, but rather whether the family could plausibly make CLAIMS that have to at least be heard. (Then you do things like involve the (right-wing) media so it isn't swept under the rug, and get a sympathetic right wing congresscritter to "hold hearings" to blow up the issue, etc.)

I usually hold no brief for judges, but in this case my guess is that the public agency (adult protection services) connived with the nursing home and the paid guardian agency and abused the system. Probably judge have a trust relationship with these social service agencies when the agencies are "merely" asking for temporary custody. After all, it'll all get sorted out when the parties have their day in court, right? What could go wrong in the meanwhile? Yeah, haha. When "in the meanwhile" gives the agency the opportunity to starve the person to death, a lot. Of course this is true of many temporary guardianships--traumatizing a child by taking him from perfectly innocent parents, even temporarily. In this case, it was a matter of life and death. But I don't imagine judges routinely scrutinize those requests. The agencies are supposed to be trustworthy, so the judges probably rubber-stamp, especially for a merely temporary order.

The nursing home is _surely_ subject to civil suit, and it may well be that the family is only waiting to file until they have her out of their clutches.

It was unclear who was actually paying for Janice Geiger's treatment. It is strange that the payer gets no say in how his money is getting to be utilized.

If the family isn't paying, then the state or other parties would be within their rights to force the family to take her or see her dumped at a shelter. Jumping to starving her to death is in the same vein as a man losing his job, having a hard time finding a job with similar compensation and deciding "my family is hungry, so I'll go commit a few armed robberies to make up the difference."

Bedarz, that's got zilch to do with it. The state deliberately _obtained_ custody of her _in order to_ starve her to death. If you do not get this, I cannot help you. It was not an attempt to get "someone else to pay," or else they would have been eager to get her off their hands. In contrast, they wanted her _on_ their hands. They deliberately took both the right and the responsibility for her care _away_ from the family because the family would not agree to starve her to death.

Let me just say here and now that, when you have custody of a helpless person, it is _always_ evil deliberately to starve that person to death. There are of course crazy "apocalypse" circumstances where families are all wandering about starving together. There are circumstances of dire poverty where parents are doing all they can for their dependent children and elderly and there just isn't enough food (again, everyone starving together). But when you have custody of someone who depends on you for food, it is *always evil* deliberately to withhold that food and thereby cause that person to starve. It is a form of murder.


This shouldn't even need to be said, but if Bedarz or anybody else can look at a situation where a county deliberately put itself into a guardianship relationship with an old woman in order to have the power to starve her to death and carp, "Who's paying?" then I suspect that person doesn't understand that principle. *Regardless* of who is paying, *whoever* has the responsibility for this woman's care has the responsibility not deliberately to starve her to death. That is just moral basics.

See also my discussion here:

http://whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2012/12/a_case_for_throwing_patients_o.html

What we are looking at is a situation where it would be _better_ for someone like Janice Geiger to be "thrown out" than to be, in essence, kept a prisoner by people who desire and intend to kill her. The most diehard libertarian _ought_ to be able to understand this.

The most diehard libertarian _ought_ to be able to understand this.

There is no defense of this situation from a diehard libertarian position. Consider that the woman's wishes were stated in writing and being enforced by her family. That's 100% compatible with libertarianism. We don't know who was funding it, but we do know that the nursing home and state conspired to override her wishes. That again goes against any form of diehard libertarianism. Finally, the state and nursing home conspired to engage in lethal conduct against her when she committed no offense for which it could be justified. That's a serious violation of the "non-initiation of force principle."

A true diehard libertarian would sooner see a case for execution for conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree than justify their actions. Under a radical libertarian regime, the only justified action would be to send her back to the family if they weren't paying and the nursing home decided the cost of care was exceeding the parameters of their financial assumptions.

Cathy's Angels of Death should be the proper name for the supposed guardian appointed who attempted, along with the nursing home, to starve this woman to death. How many people has this company murdered? Maybe you should ask:

Cathy Reimer
E8767 Cut Off Rd
New London, WI 54961
920-224-2198
Email: creimer.angels@gmail.com

Also, you should link to the original article: http://lldf.org/timely-intervention-saves-elderly-resident/

Marissa, my apologies. I intended to put the link in but somehow forgot in the course of composition. I will now fix that oversight.

It is strange that the payer gets no say in how his money is getting to be utilized.

Bedarz was obviously deeply touched by the woman's plight.

I get the principles. I am only curious why we never get to know who is footing the bill in these situations.

Maybe because it is no more relevant than the answer to, "Who is doing the patient's hair these days?" Please, stop being deliberately dense.

He has a point insofar as it helps everyone understand who is responsible for what. If the state is paying, the family has no right to complain if the state stops paying and demands they take her back. (Clearly they went far beyond that, but it puts the family's claims in a different light if the state paid for it) If the family was fairly paying, that actually makes the case even worse since it puts the nursing home's behavior in the context of taking their money and then trying to kill the subject of the contract afterward.

The only thing we can likely assume here is that the nursing home was screwing someone over because the nursing home is a business and wasn't taking care of her from the goodness of their own hearts. Someone was paying them.

Clearly they went far beyond that, but it puts the family's claims in a different light if the state paid for it.

No, I disagree. I don't think it puts anything in a different light, for the reasons that you and I have already agreed about, Mike. After all, as I pointed out, the state was trying _harder_ to be _more_ responsible for her, which is exactly the opposite of trying to back out of the responsibility of paying for anything.

What people need to realize is that the idea of starving and dehydrating elderly people and disabled people to death has a *life of its own* entirely separate from questions of payment. I pointed this out in the post I linked above (a case for "throwing people out into the streets"). There I instanced the case of young Zach McDaniel whose family did have insurance that was paying for his care, but whose doctors nonetheless made every effort to have him dehydrated to death. People need to get it through their heads that this is considered a good end in itself. Indeed, insofar as payment enters into the matter, the idea is that the families _shouldn't_ be charging the insurance companies, even if the insurance companies _are paying_. In other words, how dare you "burden the system," even if payment is in fact being made by the relevant insurance company?

I wasn't asserting any mitigation or support for the actions of the adult welfare/family service agents. I was saying that if the state was putting her up in the nursing home, the family has no moral claim on the state to force them to continue to pay unless she's there because of state malfeasance or she was guaranteed certain benefits for public service. As I said, the actions of the state's adult welfare agents was morally nonsensical.

All of that said, conservatives need to wake up and start demanding real legislative reform and get very ugly with those who stand in the way. Government employees should not have immunity on anything. We don't give surgeons who perform extremely risky operations immunity, so why the Hell should bureaucrats whose jobs are almost the inverse of rocket science, with immense legal authority, get it? One of the fastest way to stop this conduct is to make it easy to name government employees individually and sue them into ground when they act outside of the law.

I can pretty much guarantee you that if HSLDA could send a child welfare agent's family to the poor house for persecuting a homeshooling Christian family you'd see stuff like this become a rarity, effected only by the dimmest of bulbs in the civil services.

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